COLUMBIA – Oklahoma State and Colorado did not face ideal circumstances going into last Saturday's football games.
Both had performed poorly in losses the previous week, and neither team had its best running back available for a potential bounceback game. However, both managed victories Saturday.
While neither win came against the kind of competition they will see in the Big 12 Conference, each team's coach said he was pleased with the improvements he saw.
The Colorado defense, which gave up 54 points to Toledo the week before, was key in shutting out Wyoming 24-0.
"They (the defense) did a nice job. I thought they played real fast," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said in Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "We had (allowed) one big play that occurred on a scramble. I thought we kept the ball in front of us. Guys played hard, ran to the ball, did some nice things that way."
Running back Rodney Stewart, filling in for injured starter Darrell Scott, had a big day for Colorado. He was hurt against Toledo, but Saturday he carried 32 times for 127 yards.
"He's a good player," Hawkins said. "He is. He can make people miss, he's powerful. It's nice to have him back healthy."
At 1-2, the Buffaloes still have quite a bit of work to do to be ready for upcoming games against stronger competition. They have a week off before their game against West Virginia, in which Scott is expected to return.
"We'll just get better on fundamentals," Hawkins said. "Obviously we're going to start working on West Virginia. (With the week off) you know that we have to work on some things as well as get ready for the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose Cowboys lost to Houston by 10 points last week, saw good contributions from running backs Keith Toston and Beau Johnson in a 41-24 win against Rice. Usual starter Kendall Hunter is recovering from an ankle injury.
"They played fairly well," Gundy said. "Keith and Beau have run the ball really hard for us. They don't have the breakaway that Kendall has. I think everybody's aware of that, but we got some really tough yards from both of the backs and particularly from Keith in some crucial situations in that game, so we were pleased with their effort."
At last week's coaches' teleconference, Gundy lamented the Cowboys' four turnovers against Houston. Against Rice, Oklahoma State lost two fumbles, but quarterback Zac Robinson did not throw an interception.
"Well we still turned the ball over a few times, which wasn't what we were looking for, but we were able to overcome them," Gundy said. "We still need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We had a turnover on special teams that hurt us and put our defense in a difficult position. It's very important that you're able to win the turnover battle in each game. Obviously getting them (the opponent) more possessions than you have, it's difficult to overcome."
Still, Gundy was pleased with the team's general response to the Houston loss.
"We thought they played pretty well (against Rice)," he said. "They were able to practice well during the week and execute on Saturday. You have to get over a win or you have to overcome a loss and get prepared to play in the next game. But we were pleased with the effort and the ... fewer missed assignments we had in this game."